DWP Relay Service Extended
DWP’s Video Relay Service (VRS) is being extended to British Sign Language (BSL) users who want to contact the department about PIP.
People can access the service from their tablet, smartphone, computer or laptop through GOV.UK. They are then connected to a professional interpreter by video link, who relays what they are saying to DWP colleagues over the telephone.
Pat Russell, head of office for the Office for Disability Issues, said: “We regularly hear about the difficulties many disabled people have when trying to access government services.
“I am, therefore, delighted that the DWP VRS pilot has been extended to include PIP.
“This will help enable a greater number of disabled people access services in their preferred format.”
The pilot began in January for deaf and hard of hearing customers who call DWP about Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Access to Work.
There were 361 calls by the end of March – double the number expected for the whole 6-month trial in just 3 months. This represents 48 hours of translation, with an average call length of 8 minutes.
DWP worked with organisations such as the British Deaf Association (BDA) on how best to trial the pilot and it has received positive feedback.
David Buxton, director of campaigns and communications at the BDA, said: “We are really pleased to hear that the trial of the VRS service has been an overwhelming success.
“The evidence shows that deaf BSL users are using this fully accessible service in large numbers and are pleased that they can now contact DWP and discuss their issues in their own language. This is about equality and also a model of reasonable adjustment in the Equality Act.
“The BDA is happy to work with DWP to provide BSL awareness training to ensure that their staff become better able to give the right support and information to deaf BSL users.
“This is another welcome step towards making contact with government more accessible for deaf BSL users.